The Amerigo Vespucci is a tall
ship of the Marina Militare, named after the explorer Amerigo
Vespucci. Its home port is La Spezia, Italy, and it is in use as a
In 1925, the Regia Marina ordered two school ships to a design by
General Lieutenant Francesco Rotundi of the Italian Navy Engineering
Corps, inspired by the style of large late 18th century 74-cannon
ships of the line (like the neapolitan ship "Monarca"). The first,
the Cristoforo Colombo, was put into service in 1928 and was used by
the Italian Navy until 1943. After World War II, this ship was
handed over to the USSR as part of the war reparations and was
shortly afterwards decommissioned.
The second ship was the Amerigo Vespucci, built in 1930 at the
(formerly Royal) Naval Shipyard of Castellammare di Stabia (Naples).
She was launched on February 22, 1931, and put into service in July
of that year.
The vessel is a full rigged three-masted steel hull 82.4 m (270.34
ft) long, with an overall length of 101 m (331 ft) including the
bowsprit and a maximum width of 15.5 m (51 ft). She has a draught of
about seven metres (23 ft) and a displacement at full load of 4146
tons. Under auxiliary diesel-electric propulsion the Amerigo
Vespucci can reach 10 knots (19 km/h) and has a range of 5450 nm at
The three steel masts are 50, 54 and 43 metres high, and carry sails
totalling 2824 m² (30400 ft²) The Amerigo Vespucci has 26 sails –
square sails, staysails, and jibs: all are traditional canvas sails.
When under sail in severe sea and wind conditions she can reach 12
knots (22 km/h). The rig, some 30 km of ropes, uses only traditional
hemp ropes; only the mooring lines are synthetic, to comply with
The hull is painted black with two white stripes, harking back to
the two gun decks of the ships her design is based on, but she
carries only two 6pdr saluting guns in pivot mountings on the deck,
forward of the mainmast. The deck planks are of teak wood and must
be replaced every three years. Bow and stern are decorated with
intricate ornaments; she has a life-size figurehead of Amerigo
Vespucci. The stern gallery is accessible only through the Captain's
The standard crew of the Amerigo Vespucci is 16 officers, 70
non-commissioned officers and 190 sailors. In summer, when she
embarks the midshipmen of the Naval Academy (Accademia Navale), the
crew totals some 450.
Since 1964 the ship has been fitted with two 4-stroke, 8-cylinder
FIAT B 308 ESS diesel engines, which replaced the original 2-stroke
6-cylinder FIAT Q 426 engines. The newer engines generate electric
power for one electric propulsion motor that can produce up to about
1471 kW (2000 hp).
When carrying cadets, the ship is usually steered from the manual
stern rudder station, which is operated by four steering wheels with
two men each. At other times, the hydraulically assisted steering on
the bridge is used. Except for the anchor winch, the winches aboard
are not power operated. The bridge is equipped with sophisticated
modern electronic navigation instruments.
Other than during World War II, the Amerigo Vespucci has been
continually active. Most of her training cruises are in European
waters, but she has also sailed to North and South America, and
navigated the Pacific. In 2002, she undertook a voyage around the
The Amerigo Vespucci often takes part in sailing parades and Tall
Ships' Races, where she is in amicable rivalry with the Gorch Fock.
When she is berthed in port, public tours of the vessel are usually